formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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June 10, 2014 The Checkered Flag in Kerrville, and Airplanes Everywhere Else

The Liberty Gazette
June 10, 2014
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Mike: At the start of Memorial Day weekend a fellow Saturday morning propeller-head breakfast-goer suggested Kerrville as a destination. The annual folk festival would be one of five festivals there that weekend.

A little weather didn’t deter us but 25 phone calls to find lodging was becoming discouraging. These on-a-whim adventures can come with a few pitfalls, but we struck pay dirt when a Bed and Breakfast near Boerne had a sudden cancellation. Winding roads led us to the quaint spot that in the morning presented a beautiful view of rolling hills in the distance covered in clouds and mist.

Fred Egloff lives in Kerrville, too. He’s the guy we mentioned a few weeks ago who wrote "The Origins of the Checkered Flag". When he was in college he worked for Linda’s father in his foreign car dealership in Evanston, Illinois. Fred found Linda from an article in a racing history group and from their first phone call she had been eager to meet him. Mr. and Mrs. Egloff are a wonderful and entertaining couple. A tour of their home revealed three offices for research and writing: one dedicated to racing history, one for Western history, and a third to handle the overflow, along with his own personal aviation history learning to fly in a Piper Cub.

Linda: With fly-in season at open throttle the calendar is filling up like a thirsty airplane fuel tank. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association has invited its 450,000 members and their friends to come to one of the regional events they’re hosting this flying season. The organization has traditionally held an annual fly-in and some folks would plan a vacation around it, but a lot of the membership can’t make the trip every year because no matter the location it’s too far for some. So AOPA’s new president, Mark Baker, along with his esteemed crew have filed a different flight plan: instead of one large annual shindig the aviation advocacy group has planned six regional fly-ins, to get closer to pilots’ home turf. Not only does this make the popular event more accessible, it showcases the aviation industry as an economic generator to more cities.

As a vendor at the first two, San Marcos and Indianapolis, I listened to pilots discuss what they liked about the regional idea. They fly a shorter distance, have a pancake breakfast, attend seminars, enjoy lunch, and walk around gazing at airplanes, talking with other aviation enthusiasts. What could possibly beat that?

The weather was less cooperative for the April gathering in San Marcos, keeping some pilots away, but was overall a success. Under sunny skies in Indy airshow pilot Billy Werth entertained the crowd in his Pitts biplane, pilots talked with vendors about products and services, and attended seminars on safety topics.

While the average non-pilot living in Liberty, Texas might wonder why the bravado over six regional fly-ins instead of one, consider the concept of getting back to the grass roots of an activity, advocating safety and growing the ranks. We’ve said before and we’ll say again, airports are for people who don’t fly. Sounds funny, but it’s true. We all benefit by having an airport that serves the community. This is part of the work of the AOPA, to help both politicians and real people learn the value of their local airport.

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